One of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, cannabidiol has become a catch-all remedy.
More commonly known as CBD, people have attributed the compound to all kinds of pain relieving qualities, as well as the ability to ease anxiety, boost the immune system and increase productivity.
While it’s the second most prevalent of the active ingredients in marijuana, it does not cause a “high” on its own. A 2017 report from the World Health Organization states that “In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential…. To date, there is no evidence of public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”
Currently, CBD is being sold in the form of everything from oils and tinctures to edibles and topical solutions. In some cities, it’s being distributed at coffee shops as an add-in to your beverage and in all kinds of food products at your local health-oriented grocery store.
According to several studies, as cannabinoids bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, they create an analgesic effect resulting in pain relief. While substantially more research is required, there have been some studies identifying CBD’s potential in combating cancer.
In a post from Harvard Medical School, the strongest scientific evidence of CBD’s health benefits have come from its treatment of childhood epilepsy syndromes that typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications. The article also references a study from the European Journal of Pain that demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD in treating pain caused by arthritis in an animal model. There is also some compelling evidence of CBD relieving inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
We need more high-quality human studies to more thoroughly identify CBD’s exact benefits
Another study demonstrated CBD’s potential to treat pediatric anxiety and insomnia. There have also been a number of animal studies showing CBD’s antidepressant capabilities. This 2012 study links CBD to a reduction of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenic patients, and another shows CBD reducing trauma-induced inflammation.
However, some noted side effects of using CBD are: diarrhea, changes in appetite and fatigue. According to Dr. Brent Bauer at the Mayo Clinic, CBD can also negatively interact with medications you’re taking.
The only medical product containing CBD to be approved by the FDA to date is Epidiolex, a drug formulated to treat seizures in young children. In regards to other products containing CBD that purport to have medicinal capacities that have not been approved by the administration, the FDA has stated:
“Unlike drugs approved by FDA, products that have not been subject to FDA review as part of the drug approval process have not been evaluated as to whether they work, what the proper dosage may be if they do work, how they could interact with other drugs, or whether they have dangerous side effects or other safety concerns.”
While the federal government includes CBD in the same class as marijuana, all fifty states have varied legalization of the substance. The lack of regulatory clarity may present consumers with some potential risks when purchasing products purporting to contain CBD. Nonetheless, the FDA recently issued a statement clarifying its next steps in addressing this issue.
At this time the verdict appears to be that we need more high-quality human studies to more thoroughly identify CBD’s exact benefits, proper dosages and long-term effects. Additionally, a lot needs to be ironed out on the regulation front.
The medical community is still in the process of determining the appropriate uses of CBD, so it’s still very important to consult your doctor before relying on CBD to treat any ailments — especially to make sure that CBD won’t interact with any medications you may already be taking.
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